It may not have been the most eventful card in UFC history, but UFC Vegas 43 will go down as a very important one in the future of three divisions in particular heading into 2022.
The card was headlined by women’s bantamweight contenders Ketlen Vieira and Miesha Tate, who both knew that a victory would set them on the path for a potential title shot against Amanda Nunes should she be able to defeat Julianna Pena at UFC 269.
It was a close fight that brought out the best of both women, but ultimately it was the younger and more active fighter in recent times that picked up the win.
Tate came out and seemed to create big distance between them, trying to jump in with blitzes but staying away from the punching power of Vieira.
The Brazilian seemed hesitant for much of the fight, fighting on the back foot but countering with a right cross well throughout and jabbing well too.
Tate’s attempts to grapple were stifled and ultimately the striking of Vieira busted Tate up enough that by the final buzzer, her left eye was completely swollen shut and her nose leaking blood.
The 48-47 x2, 49-46 scorecards were just and fair, and now opens up the chance for Vieira to move towards a top-five fight or even an immediate title shot if the UFC deem it fair.
In the co-main event was a brilliant match-up between two grapple heavy fighters in Michael Chiesa and the undefeated Sean Brady.
Chiesa did better on the feet than expected, using his long range to land his left hand well but Brady was the first man I can recall that was able to control Chiesa on the ground for large periods, landing a career-high five takedowns en route to a victory.
Brady used his great strength and jiu-jitsu black belt to control Chiesa and claim the first and third rounds, while the judges scored the middle round for ‘Maverick’.
With the welterweight division currently being cleaned out by Kamaru Usman, who was in the Apex to watch the fight, Brady will likely enter the rankings at number 6 now following the win and will be pushing for a top five fight in early 2022 to push for a title shot.
At women’s flyweight, Taila Santos proved herself as a legit contender too by securing the only finish of the night when she choked out Joanne Wood in the first-round of their bout.
Santos was ranked at number ten before the fight with number five ranked Wood, but she immediately took control of the fight and dropped Wood with a big hook. She pounced for a finish, before eventually sinking in a choke that forced the tap.
That moves her to 19-1, with her only defeat coming via split decision in her UFC debut and as she moves towards the top five now a fight with champion Valentina Shevchenko seems very plausible.
Santos has excellent wrestling, good jiu-jitsu skills, good size for the division and powerful striking so could genuinely become a real threat at 125lbs and she could prove herself to be the perfect contender to the most dominant champion in the company right now.
UFC Vegas 43 was largely forgettable despite the depth of the card, but for three divisions it could prove to be the starting point of a few contenders’ run to title contention.